My first Guest post is by N.N. Light, author of Princess of Light! Please make her feel welcome!
Top Ten Reasons Why I Wrote Princess of the Light
One of the first questions people ask me is why did I write Princess of the Light. Truth be told, I wrote it for several reasons. So for fun, I came up with a top ten list like David Letterman. Without further ado, here it goes:
1- A chance encounter with a homeless man. Three years ago, I was walking to the grocery store in the snow and I saw a homeless man across the street. There wasn’t anything particularly special or eye-catching about him. He looked to be in his mid-fifties and his skin looked weathered. He was sitting on the curb looking up at the sun with a smile on his face. He looked at peace and I wondered what his story was. Who was he?
A voice entered invaded my thoughts. “What if you could help him?”
“What could I do? I’m just one person.” I shrugged.
“So was Mother Teresa and look how many people’s lives she changed.”
I stopped in my tracks and thought about it. He was a homeless man who looked so alone and yet had such a contented look in his eyes. “Could I really help him?” I whispered.
“He is the forgotten man and you are a gifted writer. Write his story.”
When I got home, I started writing. For the next nine months, I told the Walking Man’s story. His story is one of second chances, forgiveness and redemption. He is the inspiration behind Princess of the Light.
2- Inspire others to give time, money and non-perishable items to food banks. During my interactions with the Walking Man, I learned a great deal about hunger and the need for food banks. I started writing a blog and sharing my thoughts with the world. If every person gave time, money or canned goods to their local food bank, there would no longer be a hunger epidemic. It takes no effort or energy to help others and the result is nothing short of a miracle.
3- Share my love story with the world. I am married to the love of my life and soul mate, MR N. Our love story is amazing and it has everything a Hollywood movie dreams of: attraction, misunderstanding, love, pain, heartbreak (twice by me), reunion, falling in love, engagement, wedding and happily ever after. So many of our friends told me to include our love story in the book; I was nervous at first because hey, true life. But the more I thought about it, the more I knew the world needed to hear it. Everyone deserves happiness and love.
4- Share my vision of Spread the Light. When I was querying Princess of the Light, I knew a strong hook was the key to being a published author. Spread the Light was born. We all have the Light inside us, no matter what your spiritual beliefs, and the act of spreading our Light is the message of my book. When I was helping the Walking Man, I didn’t talk down to him or preach at him. I reflected the Light by offering him a kind word and deed. Kindness is one of the attributes of the Light and we can all be kind.
5- Create a new female role model, one who kicks butt and is spiritual. I am a huge Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. When the show was on television, she became my role model. When the going got tough for Buffy, she didn’t back down. She approached life in the same way she approached her slaying of vampires: with everything she had because tomorrow she could be dead. I knew I wanted to incorporate that mentality to my main character, Mary. I wanted her to kick ass without fear but with a spiritual bent. I wanted her to be like you or me but instead of vampires, demons and darkness were the big bad. Mary is the carrier of the Light, vanquisher of the darkness and champion for all.
6- Bring to life spiritual warfare in a story relatable to everyone. Spiritual warfare is very much alive and well. You only have to look at the news to see just how real it is. Mothers killing children, kids killing kids in school, cops shooting innocent citizens in the name of justice, etc. I could go on and on but you get the point. There is a spiritual battle going on and our souls are what are at stake. Imagine if you were destined to save a stranger from a demon. Would you? Would save a homeless man in order to give him hope again? These questions and more are the exact questions Mary faces in Princess of the Light. I just wrote it to be universal and relatable.
7- Write the story that has been burning inside my soul for years. I am a storyteller and I have had bits and pieces of Princess of the Light rolling around my head for years. A scene here, a conversation there, it wasn’t until I met my writing mentor, Josh Pahigian, that it started coming together. He helped me weave the bits and pieces into my story in addition to encouraging me along the way. At the end of the day, I am very proud of my book and being able to tell my story.
8- Write a book I would want to read. I read a quote a long time ago that if you didn’t find a book you wanted to read, write it. I took this to heart and the result is Princess of the Light. I am an avid reader and yet, I love reading Princess of the Light. Every time I read a passage, I get excited to read more. I have read it over thirty times and I still love reading it.
9- Spotlight the growing hunger issue in America, Canada and the world. As I said above, through my encounter with the Walking Man and donating at my local food bank I really uncovered an epidemic. There are hungry children in many of the richest countries in the world and that, ladies and gentlemen, is a travesty. Hunger is an epidemic and we have the opportunity to cure it. Apathy will not make it go away and you have the power to help. I hope my book inspires people to help their neighbors and not turn their head, pretending not to see it. Banded together, we can end hunger!
10- Fulfill my life-long dream of writing and publishing a book. Ever since I was a little girl, I have the gift of words. I am a storyteller, weaver of words and now a published writer. It took me a long time to achieve my dreams but I have done it. Best part is I have only just begun.
I thank you for spending a moment with me and learning all about Princess of the Light. I am so grateful to Kelly for having me on The Nook today. I hope you will go out and buy my book. It is available in e-book and print. Not only will you enjoy the story, you will be helping many hungry people like the Walking Man. Part of the proceeds of my book go directly to my local food bank. The more books I sell, the more I can donate. With only 7,500 books sold, I will be able to set up an endowment for my local food bank.
Mary Miller never thought much about destiny until God’s Archangel and Messenger, Gabriel, appears. Gabriel reveals she is destined to vanquish Darkness by spreading the Light and she has a revelation: she is the key.
Her first assignment is to restore the soul of a homeless man known only as the Walking Man. She’s thrust face to face with evil all the while losing her heart to her new love, Joe Deacons. Can she win the battle the Lord placed her in without losing all she loves?
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N. N. Light was born in Minnesota, lived in Southern California only to move to chilly Ontario, Canada to marry her beloved husband MR N. She is blissfully happy and loves all things chocolate, books, music, movies, art, sports and baking. Most of the time you can find her on Twitter or getting new ideas on how to spread the Light on Pinterest.
I’d love to connect with you either via email or via these various social media sites:
N.N. Light Website
Amazon Author Page
Independent Author Network
My first Guest post is by N.N. Light, author of Princess of Light! Please make her feel welcome!
Anyone else have a pitmad hangover? =)
Yesterday was pitmad, a fantastic Twitter pitch contest hosted by the wonderful Brenda Drake. Authors got to pitch their books and hope for a “bite” by an agent or editor. I pre-scheduled my pitches since I had to work and lost the ENTIRE morning because I forgot the hashtag *facepalm*. But, I fixed it over the dinner hour and resumed pitching in the afternoon. I wasn’t expecting anything, since it’s going to be an uphill battle to find a home for my book.
But, lo and behold, I got a favorite from an editor. I did a happy dance, squealed a little (thankfully, I was in a sound proof production room at work…) and then took a deep breath. It’s always advisable to research the folks who favorite your work, so in between projects at work, I did just that. This editor was with a press I’ve wanted to work with, so that was already cool. She seemed like a really cool person. So, before I left work, I gave everything a once-over, and submitted.
Now the hard part starts: waiting.
If you didn’t get any favorite in pitmad, don’t despair! Not every agent and editor around was participating. Not all pitches were seen (I heard there upwards of 19,000 pitches before noon!). And some agents/eds don’t take Twitter pitches. You can still query and, if you want it bad enough, you’ll still find a home for your book baby. Don’t give up just because you didn’t get any attention in a Twitter pitch contest.
And if the ones who did favorite you don’t work out, that’s okay, too. Keep trying!
I’m excited to reveal the cover for young-adult, action-adventure, science-fiction Untaken, by J. E. Anckorn, which is scheduled for release October 16th, 2014. The stunning cover was created by the talented Amy Chitulescu.
It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.
In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave.
Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys.
Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn’t for Jake.
They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house. He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk.
But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart.
When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.
Add Untaken to your Goodreads ‘to-be-read’ list.
J. E. Anckorn has been an artist and writer ever since she began to surreptitiously doodle on school supplies instead of learning about practical things, like osmosis and mathematics.
After barely surviving a freak mathematical osmosis disaster, she set out to travel the world, living in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong before returning to her native Britain- just in time to marry an American and leave for the U.S.A. She still failed to learn anything about osmosis, but did manage to cultivate an accent that is unintelligible to almost everyone. (It happened through a mysterious net movement of information from the outside environment into her brain. If only there was a word for that!)
This led to her development of a new language, based almost entirely on polite yet uncomprehending nods. In between these adventures, she has worked as a toy designer, copywriter, and freelance illustrator. She lives in Boston, with a small grumpy dog, and a large, slightly less grumpy husband.
Find J. E. Anckorn Online:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
My Twitter feed currently looks something like this:
Everyone wondering if they got a mentor, wondering if they’re writing is good enough. Some people have already dismissed themselves as not having gotten a mentor. Waiting is hard, trust me. I, too, wonder if I’ll be one of the lucky few chosen. My boys’ story is not an easy one and it’s a heartbreaking book. But, know that you are, indeed, good enough!
Whether or not you get a mentor in Pitchwars, your career is not over! It’s hardly begun. All it takes is one YES! to get your book to the next level. And the mentors have said time and again they’ve passed on some awesome stories. That old adage, that this business is very subjective, is on display for all to see on the Pitchwars hashtag on Twitter right now.
So, hang in there, fellow writers! You’ll realize your dreams one way or another!
And remember, if you don’t get a mentor, it’s not the end of the world! Keep writing, keep trying and one day your story will be on a bookshelf near you =)!
I made an earlier post about Pitchwars 2014…and now for some fun things that happen during the time leading up to submissions. One of those fun things is Pimp My Bio. So, here is my little bio for Pitchwars 2014, in the form of a Q&A with my MCs, Jimmy and Jacoby Mortensen.
1. What possessed you to tell our story? It’s ugly, it’s dark, and it’s super depressing.
A: Because you have an interesting story. Yes, it’s dark and ugly and super depressing, but it’s a story that needs to be told. There are so many books about coming out or the stereotypical gay couple and I wanted to tell a different story. Your story is not about coming out, it’s about Jimmy’s struggles with addiction, mental illness and self-identity. And it’s a story about how Jacoby tried to save him.
2. But what will make people want to read our story?
A: All those things I just talked about. You have a fascinating story and it’s that aspect that will make people want to read this book. You guys don’t hold back and people get to see how raw your story is. You don’t sugar-coat anything.
3. But we’re a little shy about our story coming out. What makes you qualified to tell it?
A: Uhm…you asked me to tell it? *thought that was obvious*
4. Okay, fine. Then why should people keep reading? No one outside of a fifty mile radius of Omaha probably knows where Mondamin, Iowa, is. And what if we scare them away? I mean Jimmy can be kind of scary, ya know?
A: I don’t think it matters if they don’t know where Mondamin is. And if you scare them away, well the, that’s their problem, right? And that’s not a very nice thing to say about your husband.
5. My turn for some questions. Okay, so I’m a little, uhm, psycho in this book. I do some Very Bad Things. So…does that endear people to me? (Jacoby snorts, trying not to laugh) Hey!
A: Guys, guys, calm down. Well, Jimmy, yes, you do make some very poor choices in this book. And okay, you do go a bit psycho. But…maybe people will have sympathy for you. And Jacoby, quit laughing!
6. I wanna know more about you! Where ya from? What do ya do? Why are you a writer?
A: Ahh…I’m from Iowa. I’m a radio producer/dj. I write for the love of writing. Frankly, if Jimmy The Rev Sullivan hadn’t inspired me, my writing drought would be in its eighth year. Instead, he got me kick-started and I’ve been writing books ever since. I have a medical background, too, so how’s that for cool?
7. Okay, so, I’m a weirdo…being gay and intersex…do you think people will like me?
A: I think so, yes. We should probably wrap this up guys.
8. Oh, but we’re having so much fun! Okay, so one more question: how shiny is your first chapter, exactly?
A: You’re gonna need shades, my friend.
Thanks to Jimmy and Jacoby for the interview. And hopefully, Rescue Me gets eyes on it =).
It’s that time once again: Pitchwars 2014! If you don’t know what that is, click the link! If you do know, click the link to check out the mentors this year.
Something that impressed me this year was the number of mentors available for adult writers! In years past, there have always been a lack of adult mentors, but this year, it’s actually difficult to narrow down my picks. The hashtag #PitchWars on Twitter is teaming with posts, writers asking mentors questions, and a great sense of community.
I’m hoping to be one of the lucky ones chosen this year for Pitchwars. I know that Rescue Me is a good book (okay I wrote it, but still), and I hope to get it before an agent and maybe even get it an agent. If not that, at least a small press. My boys are hard to love but with some patience, people come to love them. I’ve been giving my pages a good shining up and they almost squeak!
If you’re entering Pitchwars this year, good luck! And if you’re still polishing and won’t be ready in time, don’t fret. Better to wait a year than to rush in without being polished and ready! And if you see Rescue Me, cross your fingers for my boys!
First off, my apologies for going two months with no posts! I’ll blame finishing my second college degree while working two jobs =).
Now, to the topic at hand: Editing and Critique Partners.
When I first started writing as a child, I think my mom read over my stuff for glaring errors and we called it good. Hey, it got me first place and $5 in the church essay contest in second grade! =) But over the years, of course, I’ve sought out tougher opinions of my work. It wasn’t until I joined http://www.agentqueryconnect.com that I became aware of critique partners or that I would want or need one. I worked on my initial book, the one I planned to query first, on my own. I had some friends read bits and pieces, but they were all busy and didn’t have time to dedicate to my writing. That’s completely understandable and I don’t hold that against them.
Then I learned about critique partners. Then, that first book bombed to the point I shelved it until further notice. I started editing/re-writing my other series, my LGBT series that’s set in small town Iowa. I felt it was ready, so did the query critiques, etc., and then sent out some tests. I got a partial right away and was so delighted! But, it got rejected. So, back to the drawing board I went. I used various fora on AQC to get critiques and overall, it was decided that my opening sucked.
So, I sought out a critique partner. We traded chapters until both books were polished. I worked hard on the suggestions and tried again.
So, I’m going to seek out another CP in the future. Currently, I’ve done some page and chapter swaps to tighten things. Most recently, I did a three chapter swap and got some great suggestions. I’m still tweaking the opening, but every time I get eyes on it, something comes from it that’s helpful.
The point of all this rambling is that you can never have too many eyes on your work. Of course, at some point, you have to decide for yourself if any further suggestions will help or hurt. And you don’t have to take all the suggestions you get. Consider them carefully, but make sure you maintain your voice. Either way, try to find objective eyes for your work. It helps if the person hasn’t read your work yet, so they’re 100% objective. By all means, give them a short synopsis, but let them see the work with fresh eyes.
Once you’ve had a CP and worked hard, get another one. Eventually, you’ll want a beta reader. This is one step I skipped and I think it’s time to rectify that. Having objective eyes can help you see if that polished draft really is ready or not. And remember: your ms might be 100% ready and still tank in the slush. It’s so cliche, but it’s so true: this business is subjective. Not everyone is going to love your story. But if you get a CP and a beta, you’re on the right path.
The second half of the PitchSlam contest has concluded. I got good feedback on my first 250 words, and it addressed something I was worried about: people not understanding that the MCs were employees of the hospital, not patients. I’ll post my first 250 with the feedback I received. Feel free to leave a comment (good, bad, or ugly!). I’ll be heading into revisions over the weekend, no doubt, but want to let the feedback simmer for a little bit so I come at things with fresh eyes.
First 250 Words of Rescue Me (LGBT Contemp. Romance):
Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day, and suffered nerve damage in his right arm as a result. When he first started here as a basic level EMT, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet the requirements of probation.
“Earth to Jacoby.”
I glanced up at Hollister, my fellow EMT, friend and co-worker, as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy. He was dressed in his blue flight suit, ready to hop into Creighton One at any time. Creighton One was our flagship medical chopper and Jimmy’s pride and joy. He was animated, talking about something or another with fellow paramedic Anthony. Growling when Hollister tapped my shoulder, I shot her a dark look. “What?”
“Back off, Captain Grumpy Pants. We’ve gotta get our rig cleaned out before the next call. Stop ogling your man and let’s go.”
“I’m not ogling him, I’m watching him. He’s not acting right.”
“Whatever, Mortensen. Let’s get this over with.”
I reluctantly followed her out into the cold ambulance garage. Being an EMT was fun until it was time to clean the rigs. Besides, it took me away from Jimmy and I needed to keep an eye on him.
There are too many characters introduced in the first 250. It’s jarring and difficult to follow. Is there a way to work the backstory into action/dialogue as opposed to exposition? Doing so will make the narrative stronger and help it to stand out from the pack. Also, a lot of dialogue at the very beginning doesn’t give the reader a chance to immerse themselves in what you’ve built, they have to immediately try and keep up with who’s talking, what they’re talking about, and why. The lack of dialogue tags only adds to that problem. Focus on the here and now. We imagine someone sitting in the ER watching their ill loved one wouldn’t be thinking about coworkers, living arrangements, how everyone knows one another, and jumpsuits.
Glancing across the emergency room, I watched my husband’s right arm twitch. He’d been an abuser of anything he could get his hands on back in the day and suffered nerve damage as a result. When he first started at Creighton University Hospital, no one thought he’d last a month. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic; Creighton took a chance on him because he needed a job to meet probation requirements.
In retrospect, I wasn’t sure why they took a chance on him. He wasn’t stable and he was at risk of losing the job more times than I can count. Still, he once he got clean and sober for the fourth time five years ago, he’d managed to stay that way. Granted, it took a cocktail of psych meds, but stability was stability in my mind.
Watching him, I was starting to think that cocktail had failed him. He’d been argumentative lately, paranoid, all signs that he’s off his meds again. Shaking my head, I dismissed the thought. We just had his meds evaluated and his doctor made no changes.
Then again, his right arm trembling like the San Andreas fault didn’t bode well for him being on his meds. Maybe he missed his tremor medication this morning. And his anxiety meds. I’d have to check when we got home tonight.
“Earth to Jacoby.”
I glanced at Hollister Macintosh, my friend and co-worker as she settled into a chair beside me. Frowning, I returned my attention to Jimmy.
I am participating in PitchSlam a different kind of writing contest. In this one, you submit your 35 word pitch, receive feedback, then your first 250, receive feedback, revise and submit and entire thing in the final round. I’m posting this here so that I can help others with their pitches and they can help me with mine =)
Jacoby Mortensen married a guy who should be dead.
Being a primary caregiver is always tough, but when you’re also married to someone who should be dead, it can truly become unbearable. Jacoby Mortensen knows this first hand but lately, it’s been more of a challenge than ever.
Jacoby sometimes imagined how he’d meet his future spouse. But half-dead in a seedy back alley in Council Bluffs, Iowa, never once crossed his mind. Getting attached to a seventeen-year-old John Doe went against every rule of paramedics. But the longer Jacoby sat at Jimmy’s bed side, the more attached he grew and they were married a year later. No matter how many times Jimmy ran away, back to the drugs and the streets, Jacoby was at home, waiting for him. He took his vows seriously and, if that meant combing the streets trying to bring his husband home, so be it. But when Jimmy goes off his meds again, Jacoby doesn’t think he’s strong enough to make the marriage work anymore. Once he’s released from the psych ward, Jimmy promises to stay on his meds, but Jacoby doesn’t believe him.
Jimmy refuses to take care of himself and Jacoby is going slowly insane. Jacoby sees it as his duty to keep his husband clean and sober. Then, Jimmy goes behind Jacoby’s back and takes a job out in California. Jacoby doesn’t want to leave Iowa and start over. But with Jimmy and his ex getting dangerously close to each other, Jacoby has to decide how much Jimmy means to him—and to what lengths he’ll go to keep the marriage together.
RESCUE ME is contemporary LGBT romance complete at 85,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Jacoby knew when he married Jimmy life was going to be rough–Jimmy was a drug addict and alcoholic. Then Jimmy goes off his psych meds…and Jacoby just might have to kill him.
After reading your entry, we’ve found you could strengthen your pitch by addressing the following issues:
We feel you’re missing an opportunity to show the strength of their story. There seems to be grit, perhaps angst, and a lot of tension that you’re hinting at, but these things aren’t coming through clearly.
Suggestion: start with the basic format for a strong pitch & personalize it from there. When [x] happens, [MC] must [y] or else [z]. Fill in the blanks with the core elements which make your story unique. Show why a reader should care about this struggle between Jacoby & Jimmy. Choose STRONG verbs.
YA Paranormal Romance
With school nearing it’s end and graduation looming, this has been a busy semester. Reading time has been scarce, but lately, I’ve been digging out part of my days to read. I started Evade ages ago and finally finished it tonight.
Evade is part of the Ever trilogy. I reviewed Ever a while back on my blog, and it’s a must read! The story follows Ever, Toby, and various friends and extended family on a journey that will suck you and won’t let go. Evade is the second book in this trilogy and I can’t wait for the final installment of this amazing series!
Now, on to Evade!
Evade picks up where Ever left off. The reader follows Ever as she tries to live a normal life, off on a vacation to Mexico before starting college in the fall. Naturally, nothing is easy for this girl, and she runs into her least favorite person while trying to have fun. She is then kidnapped by an unknown gang who want her soul. She eventually ends up back home with her family, but the worst is yet to come. The reader learns, along with Ever, things about the family and Ever’s past that will boggle the mind. With this news out in the open, the real adventure begins.
Evade takes the reader from California all the way to Seattle before leaving the book on a cliffhanger that will leave you pleading with the author for more. I very much enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the third and final installment of this magnificent series. Jessa’s strength is that the reader can guess all they want what’s going on…but you’ll always be surprised. It would be easy to give the reader the obvious but Jessa doesn’t do that. Instead, she keeps you guessing as you read. The MC, Ever, is also not your typical damsel in distress. She finally takes matters into her own hand and the reader is left to guess if Ever did the right thing or not. No ‘save me! rescue me!’ from that girl! And while the book is technically YA, the characters are all mature and don’t come off as childish or typical in any way, shape, or form. Jessa has a definite talent as a writer and you will be swept away as soon as you crack the first page of her books.
5 of 5 stars to Jess Russo and Evade!